Armitageworld is for everyone

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***

No worries — I can say what I want here, and I will. This blog isn’t going away. It’s too important to me. I wish I felt amused, though.

I’ve been struggling with this question for about two weeks — but now, for the fourth time in a fortnight, I’ve read criticism, not of a viewpoint held by a blogger, which is perfectly okay, and which can open the kind of discussion that most of us invite, but of a blogger herself (including but not limited to me), for being over-analytical, too indepth, too involved in the topic, too detailed.

This is the difference: the first says, “Blogger X says this and I disagree because of reasons.” The second says, “Blogger X is too involved, too detailed, needs to stop overanalyzing and just enjoy things, writes too much, is too intellectual.”

In other words — there’s been another subtle but noticeable emergence of “you’re doing it wrong!” syndrome in Armitageworld lately.

It’s hard to figure out how any of us could be doing it wrong, actually.

We’re all just expressing our (extreme) admiration for an actor in words and art and other media. There are an infinite number of ways to do that. I pretty much love them all — which is why I take the time to put together this list of links each week. Because fellow fans and what they say and do have become just as interesting and valuable to me as Richard Armitage and his career.

All of us do this to meet our own needs. And none of those needs are any more legitimate than any others. When we delegitimate the fandom of others, whether we realize it or not, we’re sawing off the branch we’re sitting on. Escapism, squeee, self-knowledge, technical skill development, creativity in writing and art — they’re all good!

I’ve stopped responding to certain kinds of criticism of me / the blog, but I’m going to continue to plea for peace regarding this vibe, because I care about the feeling in Armitageworld, I invest a lot of time on preserving it to the extent that I can, and while I have never once in three years harshed on someone’s squee, somehow it’s starting to be okay to harsh on my and others’ level of detailed analysis, the extent of our reading, the themes we choose to discuss, and even our vocabulary.

Basically, I don’t go places where I know I’m not wanted because of my mind. Up till recently, little or none of Armitageworld has been a place where I’m unwelcome because I’m articulate. Reading that stuff is hard on my fangirl productivity. It makes me not want to be involved in Armitageworld — one of the most supportive “places” I’ve found on the planet.

I’m not asking people not to engage in critical discussion of what I write — here and elsewhere. I’ve written before about why professors think the way we do in a piece called “On academics and their ‘obsessive’ concerns.” My point at that time was essentially that scholars have reasons for the questions we ask. We’re not involved in the detail level of things for no reason, or because we’re just crazy. I don’t apply any less rigor to my discussion of Armitage than I do to my own work. I expect disagreement with some or even all of it, though admittedly the things that people disagree with often surprise me. For an academic, if everyone agrees with you’re saying, that means you’re behind the curve.

What I wish we would do: Disagree with the point of view expressed. Defend our own opinions with sources, arguments, vigor and verve! This process can be really productive and we all learn from it. I’ve changed my mind about numerous things regarding Armitage simply because someone took the time to have a detailed conversation with me about their points of view.

What I wish we would not do: Attempt to delegitimate the blogger him- or herself for the very fact of writing or thinking in depth about something. Doing that makes people want to stop writing and it makes our world poorer and less diverse.

Liking one thing does not logically necessitate disliking something else. Everyone who writes about Armitage in any place has his or her own purpose and mission. If you like a particular kind of piece, make sure you let the author know that by leaving praise and support! (That’s why I urge everyone to make comments at the links that I post every week.) But liking one style of fandom doesn’t have to happen at the cost of slamming a different style. We went through this battle when the Armitage blogosphere emerged, and we’ve finally put the illusory blogs vs. forums silliness to rest. We thankfully didn’t have a hassle when the tumblr and Twitter folks emerged; there was no (to me) observable problem with tension over the influx of the Hobbit fans into our various worlds.

So let’s keep it that way. Nothing anyone’s doing that I can read, anyway — whether I like it personally or not — deserves to be delegitimated. There’s room for everyone here.

A quote from something I wrote last fall:

What should we keep our eyes on? The thing that brought us here, whenever that happened. The thing that brings out our best qualities — our capacity to rejoice with those who are rejoicing (and the sympathy that that permits, which in turn allows us to mourn with those who are mourning in that season).

What brought us here? Enjoyment of Richard Armitage and his work. That is the main thing that unites all of us, even if we define that enjoyment in very diverse ways. And if we keep thinking about it as our paramount concern, reveling in that feeling of instantly activated love can make our world a better place. Because even if we disagree about all kinds of things — about what it is okay to say or do or think — we can agree that our motivation for speaking or doing or thinking is the immense amount of joy brought to us by this beautiful, talented, considerate, thoughtful guy.

[..]

this is my fan resolution for the next year:

The next time I feel some kind of irritation with fan behavior that leads me to feel the urge to police or disapprove, I am going to ask myself: even if I don’t happen to like this particular thing, what do I share with this fan? Why do I care about this person’s behavior in the first place? And the answer is going to be: I care because we both love Richard Armitage. That doesn’t mean that I have to approve innerly — but it does mean that I have to stop thinking about the outcome and start thinking about shared motivation. … I can easily grant that joy to someone else — even if I don’t like or even understand the specific thing she is doing.

Thanks for listening. Comments are open. But “you’re doing it wrong” comments will be edited / deleted. Thanks for your understanding.

~ by Servetus on May 25, 2013.

79 Responses to “Armitageworld is for everyone”

  1. I heartily agree. Richard draws a group of fans that is growing ever more diverse, it seems. I really have enjoyed getting to know new fans who arrived via Thorin and TH and love getting the chance to help introduce them to his other work–some of which they may love and some they may not.

    We are all different in the way we learn, think, reason, in our sense of humor, in the boundaries of our comfort zones. What unites us is our mutual love, admiration, respect and fascination for Richard Armitage. There is room for us all in our little community. We need to respect that notion.

    Rock on, my intellectual amigo. Rock on.

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  2. I must be living under a rock (or stuck in an elevator somewhere with a stranger) and not aware of the criticism of your blog or someone else’s (and hoping it’s not me because I admit, I can be clueless sometimes) but I do love the diversity of Armitageworld and know that we can’t please everyone.

    For if we were to please everyone then there isn’t anything interesting to read anymore (at least for me).

    And really in the world of writing/blogging/expression of admiration for one particular person, there shouldn’t be a right way or a wrong way. We’re all different in the ways we express our ideas and admiration, and that should be respected, though there are a few who just can’t help it and just haaaave to criticize.

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  3. A comment such as that you received is quite absurd. (I will not comment on the commenter, who is entitled to an opinion.) The manner in which a blogger delivers a post is an individual issue, and presumably, reflective of how their mind works, how their perceptions are processed and presented. Perhaps a blogger can fall on her/his sword if he/she becomes so boring, no one can be bothered to comment. That is not the case with RA+Me. Nor with the bloggers in Armitage blogosphere. Let all continue to express diverse individuality.

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    • I think sometimes, of course only speculating, that when people are bothered by things in ways they don’t understand it’s easier to dismiss the person than what is being said.

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  4. Excellent. As with anything, if it doesn’t vibe with me then I just move on. Like my momma told me, “if you can’t say something nice…”,then I say, rethink it, rephrase it or move on. Armitageworld is a pretty darn nice, diverse place to visit, to chat and to share.

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  5. Amen, Serv. The beauty and the tragedy of the internet. People are people, after all. Totally agree.

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  6. Just don’t go there. If there’s something on someone’s blog or there are fandom realms you don’t like or that bother you, just skip it. Don’t read it. You control your participation in this fandom, but you can’t make others abide by your personal rules.

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    • If this is directed at me, Trudy, actually I stay away from places where clear enmity is obvious. What I’m writing about is the appearance of this dynamic in places I frequent where I assume the participants to be friendly and still get the anti-intellectual thing pushed in my face. Something I would never do, incidentally.

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    • And yes, I approach people individually, with varying success. What I’m asking for is a break on knee-jerk anti-intellectualism. If I can’t get that, I will be curtailing my participation a lot.

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      • Serv, knee-jerk reaction stuff has been bugging me re my RL Facebook friends. So it’s not RA-related, but about other issues and it reminds me why I am so ambivalent at times about FB. And why I don’t always feel as if I completely “fit in” around here.
        But you have to be yourself, right?!

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        • there’s something about the decaying political atmosphere at the moment that must be feeding this …

          but yeah. This is the only me I have.

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          • Yes, the native are restless tonight, so to speak–lots of rumblings and mumblings going around and about in this part of the world. :-/ I tried to be something of a voice of reason and that didn’t go over too well. Oh, well, I shall avoid getting entangled in such brouhahas from now on. Just don’t know how all of this is going to pan out.

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    • And when it starts appearing on my own blog, as it has recently, I think I’m entitled to speak up.

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      • You’re in complete control of your own blog. Your blog is one of the most visible and active in the RA blogosphere. I can see that you’re going to get static rather frequently. I hope it’s manageable and that the wide majority of fans remember to be kind.
        Non-bloggers have a bit of nerve to chew out anyone who is freely offering their thoughts on a subject in the manner that is meaningful to them. Where’s their blog? I’d like to compare…

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        • that’s what I always think — offer an alternative! My experience in Armitageworld has more or less been “if you build it, they will come.”

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  7. It is Richard Armitage who brought us here and the fans who have made us feel welcome to stay. Yes I come each day for my fix of RA, but I also come for the friends that I have made on-line. It is a place where I can bring up other topics and feel that it is ok to do so. I will that there are people that I feel more drawn to, but it the same way in the rest of my life.

    Servetus , I am happy to hear that you will keep up your blog. I enjoy reading what you have to say. I have learned so much and hope to learn more.

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    • I learn a lot, too! So I hope we can keep up that atmosphere. I’m glad you’re around, katie70.

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  8. I find it utterly baffling when people deride intellectuality. I’ve spent a large part of my life struggling to find pride in that part of myself because of how others have reacted to it. I’m drawn to good use of language and I strive to improve my vocabulary when I write. This fandom has brought out a side of me that I’m incredibly proud of and it’s blogs like yours that have inspired me.

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  9. Well Said and Here Here!

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  10. So well put. One of the reasons I follow your blog is because of the intelligent discussions that you encourage here. I have read some other blogs and forums where I wasn’t thrilled about the content, but I have the choice to go somewhere else for my RA love. I don’t have the right to tell anyone what they should or should not put on their blog because it’s THEIR blog. They are the one who thinks about, writes about, finds the resources for and takes the time to put their personal feelings and thoughts out there and leave themselves open and vulnerable to pretty much anyone. As far as I’m concerned that takes a LOT of guts and anyone willing to do that deserves all of my respect and consideration. It’s because of the criticism and judgement that I have seen leveled at some of the blogsters and also authors of fanfiction on various sites that have discouraged me from wanting to put my own thoughts out there (so far my very limited attempts have been all positive–thankfully!!)
    I’m happy you are not scared away by unhappy, judgemental people and I’m looking forward to many, many more intelligent, over-analyzed and in-depth posts from you!

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    • I was talking with someone else last night about why this particular criticism hits hard (being too intellectual, as opposed to being too obsessed) and I think for me it might have something to do with both the atmosphere in the US at the moment and also the experience of being derided in the past for being smart. You think you’ve gotten off the playground, but you really haven’t.

      That said, as the comments strand on this post proves there are so many supportive readers out there, so don’t be afraid. I think we should go ahead with your idea of a scratch ‘n’ sniff Armitage. We just have to figure out the correct scent.

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  11. Also, I can’t help feeling a wee bit responsible for your post. I know that my post ‘A Bit of Fluff and Nonsense’ caused some comments about intellectual posts. It was not my intention, and I personally love reading some of the more in depth writing and observations out there. I was really just poking fun at myself – which is often the style of MY posts. Like you say, there is room for everyone. Alas, just as in RL people are all different and some can lack sensitivity and decorum. I’m sorry if I inadvertently cause any offense

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    • It wasn’t you, specifically, bechep. ((Hugs)). If it had been you, I know you personally and I’d have just talked to you about it. It was more that someone felt obligated to cheer you up by slamming an abstract blogger who sounded an awful lot like me. But that was just one moment in the last few weeks when I or someone I know got slammed for being “too” something and I decided that I didn’t want to stew about it anymore, but that I also didn’t want to be responsible for challenging people every single time this theme came up (and it’s been coming up a lot lately).

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      • Well I’m glad you wrote this, because I agree. We get enough put downs and negative comments in RL, Armitage World is somewhere we should come to all enjoy the fandom together! Without nastiness. If its any consolation, I LOVE your blog and I know that many many other people do too- I love the way you write and the way you get deep into things. One of the other things I love is your honesty.

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        • yeah, fans get enough grief from people who don’t get fandom — we have to stick together!

          Thanks for the kind words. I promise I wasn’t fishing for compliments.

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        • and, before I forget, the next time you’re in the barrel, bechep, can you kiss Thorin’s knees for me?? KNEES, mind you. 🙂

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          • I know you weren’t fishing!!!!! Just wanted to tell you how wonderful you are 🙂

            As for Thorin’s knees, (knees???!) I’d be glad to kiss them for you!! I shall kiss them on my way up *cough* to more kissable appendages *cough*

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  12. when the policing comes about from other fans, it’s from the kinds of people that are sadly missing the whole point of a fandom: the relationships we cultivate through a shared interest. to them it’s a competition, who knows the most, cares the most, is the most worthy. I personally don’t want us all to be the same, that would be very boring! I tend to be lighthearted on my blog, but am actually a very introspective person. so while I need to let loose with humor, I also really enjoy the heavy. everyone expresses themselves differently, in subject matter, approach, and language. just because a person doesn’t “talk” like me, or see things in the same way I do does not mean I should discount them; I learn some very worthwhile things from people who are the most unlike me. we can agree to disagree, but when you start telling someone that their opinions are wrong, it’s time to take a step back and look at what you’re doing/saying. it’s an opinion, it can’t be wrong 😉 just as a blog is one person’s “approach” at trying to get across what they want to say, share, figure out 🙂

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    • This is an interesting point, kelbel75, not least in the context of this fandom, which really does a lot to disseminate information about Armitage (all the fansites that aggregate press, pictures, and so on) — i.e., it’s a fandom in which the fans make the information incredibly accessible.

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  13. A word or two about myself first, if I may: I am a total newbie to blogging, though an old(ish) fan (literally and figuratively – not young enough anymore to be called young and have been a fan since N&S) of Richard Armitage and his incredible work. Lately RL got so stressful that I decided to take a break and engage in fandom again, something I had put on hold for a few years because of said stressful RL. For the past few months I have browsed the net, read articles and blogs, tweeted, watched, re-watched and reacquainted myself with the man and his work; a man whom I stumbled upon by accident when I – slightly miffed – told my students to “at least watch the damned DVD, if you’re too lazy to read the book”. Which, surprise, surprise, forced *me* to watch the damned DVD as well. And so it began. The rest is probably the kind of history some people reading this might not find too surprising. *smiles*

    But what I find surprising this time around is the amount of controversy and downright antagonism that has sprung up. Surprising and sad, really. It shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve been through it all once or twice already. Some fandom “wars” were particularly nasty and caused me to more or less leave, which in retrospect I regret. It gave the “other side” cause to rejoice and allowed the trolls to feel they had won. I left because I felt there suddenly were “sides” where none could or at least should be. My opinion, of course. Others felt differently. Their right. I left because things got nasty. Discussion turned to dirty fighting and I didn’t want any part of that. But – and this is what I am trying to say and I am quoting one of my favourite fun-time authors: “There is no one true way!” There shouldn’t be. In a perfect world we should all be able to rejoice in and value different opinions. They enrich our lives. This isn’t a perfect word, but I was and am at least hoping for a tolerant one in this fandom. The man who has brought us together seems to be the kind of man who would value tolerance and kindness above all else.

    And here I am “preaching” again. I am not really sorry. It is late where I am, I am tired and truth be told, I like to wax more or less eloquently about anything and everything anyway. Some people even tell me I “talk too much”, but, hey, it’s my job to talk. I go on sick leave when my vocal cords can’t take it anymore. Typing, however, works even then. *grins*

    I guess, what I am trying to say is: I like your blog and the blogs of others that I have stumbled upon. I like reading your views on things. I like reading the discussions that spring up. I may not always comment. There is that pesky RL thing that does keep me busy, but sometimes I take the time to string a few phrases together, not enough for a sensible discussion. Mostly, I fear, it is silly nonsense, because that helps me cope. But that doesn’t mean I do not appreciate the other stuff. I do. Sometimes I nod, sometimes I frown, sometimes I grin and sometimes I sigh in understanding because I have been there as well. So, please, don’t let the trolls (for want of a better term) win this time. Don’t follow my example. Stick around and enrich my life, please. I’ll try to thank you and others as often as I can. Promise.

    PS: Hope you don’t mind the late-night ramblings.

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    • Wow, I don’t run into too many “legacy” fans anymore 🙂 Thanks for the comment, and welcome, and no worries about length and rambling and nonsense. (Three primary characteristics of this blog).

      I do think that some of the squabbling is just native to fandom, and I just want people to be alert to the dynamic when it appears as it seems to have been, again, lately. Because, as you say, it does make people leave. I’ve had conversations with some of those people

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  14. Good lord, here we go again. It rears its ugly head every few months, and once again you have to make it known “Dudes, my blog, my words, my experience. Like it or loathe it, but don’t tell me what to do or how to act!” It almost feels like you should make it in a large banner at the top of YOUR blog!

    I do wish people, not just in this particular fandom but people in general, could at least respect each other. Disagree with their views, have an argument or a serious discussion, whatever, but try to dictate how the other should or should not live/think/behave is a major NO.

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    • Well, I’d subtitle it “de gustibus non est disputandum,” but I might be accused of having pretensions 🙂

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  15. In a way it is kind of sad that that sort of post needs to be written. And not only just once but repeatedly. I do not understand that sort of criticism (of overanalysing, intellectual writing) – don’t like it, don’t read it. Or think it and draw your own conclusions. But why spoil someone else’s fun? I could write more – but I do not want to inadvertantly become personal by doing so.
    I wholeheartedly agree with Serv’s appeal to respect and tolerance in the Armitage blogosphere. I think this fandom has proven that *all* approaches can coexist peacefully. We can express ourselves the way we individually need to and at the same time create that web of knowledge, and entertainment, that Serv described last week. Romantic fluff and intellectual analysis may be diametrically opposite, but in *this* fandom they complement each other. The discussion here shows that.

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    • Every time I write it, I hope it’s the last time. And I’m wrong every time.

      I think one of the things that’s liberating about this fandom for me is that I get to be all the things I am in it — intellectual and fangirl. i really want that for every fellow fan.

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  16. Well said, Serv!
    Hues in the paint wheel–we need and appreciate them all. Can you imagine someone telling Monet to forget about the many hues of blue?
    Armitage Fan Admirers, “paint” our admiration for Richard Armitage in many ways. And our RA sphere is the better for it.
    Cheers! Grati ;->

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  17. It’s a shame you have go through this every so often. And for the life of me I can’t imagine why anyone feels the need to pick apart what you do here. All I know is that you’re an inspiration — much like the person who inspired this blog along with all the others.
    Just today I was thinking that I don’t know RA from adam’s house cat, but just knowing that maybe there really is someone out there who is as inspirational as I think he is, makes the world a better place (especially in these turbulent times). And the same can be said for the folks in the RA blogasphere. For every naysayer, there are many, many more that appreciate what you and all the others do!!

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  18. I have to tell you what a wonderful surprise it was for me to discover your blog along with the others in this fandom. I had NO idea such sites were out there until I stumbled on past RAnet and the other RA archive sites.

    What did these blogs consist of? You mean to say I could encounter interesting and indepth discussions on all manner of topics pertinent not just to my appreciation for an actor, but to other meaningful life issues? Good grief, who would have thought it? Seriously though, I appreciate and respect all of you who put your thoughts out there for all of us to read and respond to- I never know what surprises await me when I turn on my iPad!

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  19. Coming out of RA blogging hibernation to say that you are wonderful.

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    • darlingdarling!!!!! How ARE you???? did you survive teaching English comp???

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      • I’m well! I hope you are having some kind of rest this summer. I’m burning through teaching a four-week intensive poetry workshop and then enjoying the summer before my final year. I lucked out of not teaching comp my second year (taught poetry and business writing instead) and it was such a relief to teach kids who actually want to be in your class and ENJOY writing! I’m done with my degree coursework as well so it’s a tremendous relief. Glad to see that you are still blogging! I check in and every now and then. 🙂

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  20. I agree with you and many of the comments. We need tolerance and respect for one another in both RL and Armitageworld. I read your blog because you write what you do. No one has the right to say or imply that “You’re doing it wrong.” That is not just rude and unkind, but stepping over the boundaries into an attack on your freedom of speech.

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    • I don’t know if it’s a freedom of speech violation but it explodes the boundaries of the discursive community if we delegitimate each other personally.

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  21. Nothing I can think of to add, which is what I expect and one of the things I admire about this group. You express my thoughts before I can put them into words and express them so well. I’m new here, and have, frankly, been having a blast over the past week or so. This has given me more satisfaction than any of you could know. I have been welcomed warmly. And I have thought, no wonder Richard is proud of his fans. What a great place to be!

    I was bewildered when I learned that all is not well in Armitageworld – near the point of tears. Just as I discovered this place where I can analyze, reflect, laugh, explore, grouse, gaze longingly, and admire, things seemed to be crumbling. Please say it ain’t so!

    Servetus, I’ve already commented on what I admire about you and your contribution here. Getting to know you better hasn’t changed that a bit. And I will always appreciate your support as I timidly begin to spread my blogging wings.

    Ok, I said I had nothing more to add. That’s it.

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    • We do have these problems periodically, justmepurring, so let’s not give up on us yet 🙂 The Armitage blogosphere has undergone some significant generational changes in the last three years, but one of the fantastic things is that there are so many new blogs just in the last few weeks. The discussion will definitely go on.

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      • Thanks for some of the back story. Recognizing that the comment last night was written during a period of physical discomfort as well as intellectual frustration, let’s just omit that middle paragraph. In the light of day, as long as there is diverse and lively discourse such as this set of comments provides, I’m happy as a clam! 🙂

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  22. To all trolls and “web preachers”: KISS MY ASS!

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  23. Armitageworld has been an amazing experience for me and I have been spoilt by so many mediums to satisfy all my cravings and indulge all my senses. With so much to choose from forums, blogs, twitter, facebook, tumblr, meeting RA friends etc I can only spend so much time out from RL online and depending on those time restraints and my mood at the time I can flit in and out or engage to my hearts content. i have my favourites and Serv yours are one of them, I read and come away appreciating your perspective and the way you express things and then choose where to get my RA fix next.

    Lets hope that you aren’t discouraged from providing like all those other talented people who share parts of themselves online a choice for us to engage in everything Richard inspires as you are all appreciated deeply by the likes of me. Hugs to all those who are made to feel not so nice on the odd occasion because they are brave enough to share what they choose to do so.

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    • You raise something that was an issue for me in writing this — every time there’s a personal attack, there’s someone who’s thinking about writing something who says, “no, risk is too big.” I hope we can minimize the risk for each other in openness and honesty about things.

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  24. Just wanted to say I love your blog, I love the way you write and that about what you write because it broadens my horizons. And I thank you for that. :*

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  25. Most of what I could say has already been posted, so just wanted to delurk and write a few lines to express my enjoyment of reading your blog, particularly the analytical and intellectual posts!

    I never thought I’d identify with a fandom despite being an RA admirer for a number of years – it was discovering your blog that drew me in…love that robust discussion, as well as the goo goo stuff. And even if I didn’t, fully support people’s right to do so. After all, we do have the inalienable right to hit the “back” or “delete” buttons.

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  26. […] the margins of the fandom. So many times we’ve had to state explicitly from the center that there’s a place for everyone in this fandom, so telling people they are too serious, too intel… or write is dangerously delegitimating.  Now that argument has moved to the center. Richard […]

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